What came first, Fourier's Law, or the definition of heat capacity?


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  • $\begingroup$ Can you please provide some context on your motivation for asking this question? $\endgroup$ – Chester Miller Dec 13 '18 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ I am just a bit curious about the history of the thermodynamics. $\endgroup$ – Christina Daniel Dec 13 '18 at 4:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Would History of Science and Mathematics be a better home for this question? $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Dec 13 '18 at 5:06
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about the history of physics not physics $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Dec 13 '18 at 6:27
  • $\begingroup$ What's "Fourier Law"? Is not is the same as "Newton's law of cooling"? $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Dec 13 '18 at 16:10

Warning -- assumptions made in the following.

Fourier's Wiki page mentions that

In 1822 Fourier published his work on heat flow in Théorie analytique de la chaleur (The Analytical Theory of Heat) Which one could interpret as the first publication of what later became named "Fourier's Law."

Whereas the Wiki page on heat capacity states

In a previous theory of heat common in the early modern period, heat was thought to be a measurement of an invisible fluid, known as the caloric. Bodies were capable of holding a certain amount of this fluid, hence the term heat capacity, named and first investigated by Scottish chemist Joseph Black in the 1750s.

Thus one can assume (making an ass of you and me) or assert (see the title-text) that heat capacity was defined first.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. 70 years is quite a long time between the development of the heat capacity idea and Fourier's Law. $\endgroup$ – Christina Daniel Dec 14 '18 at 1:18

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